America's North Shore Journal

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Flu Season

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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) continue to warn that the 2012-2013 flu season will be more severe than most. It is not a pandemic flu, just a flu strain that does not usually appear in the seasonal influenza season in the United States. The last time that the country experienced a season such as this one appears to be was 2003-2004.

The culprit this year is Influenza A (H3N2). This strain of the flu is from the H3 line, which dominates in less than 1 year in 8. Because H3 strains are rarer, fewer people have a natural immunity. The (H3) strains also seem to produce more severe infections than the A (H1) strains that are the usual cause of flu illness.

This strain is not the variant that has been found to move from pigs to humans. The Influenza A (H3N2) variant virus. There have been a total of 321 cases of illness due to this strain, and one death, since it was first identified in the United States in 2011.

While influenza is not one of the illnesses that is required to be reported to the CDC, the agency does obtain and analyze a variety of data from all 50 states, New York City and the District of Columbia. Based on the variety of data obtained, the CDC makes estimates of the number of influenza cases, the number of flu-related deaths and the number of flu-related hospitalizations. Most states publish similar, local data on their health department websites.

Through December 29, 2012, there have been 18 flu deaths in children under age 18, at least 314 deaths from the flu in adults over age 18 and over 8,785 hospitalizations due to severe influenza. Those numbers were gathered from the various states and the CDC.

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